Familiar faces among the crowd?
My friend said he thought he recognized a face, a face from that Wednesday night video in DC, when wannabe revolutionaries stormed the Capitol and performed for the camera while they were there. Five people lay dying, even though most of those doing the storming — giving the benefit of the doubt here — probably weren’t aware it was happening, at least until the shots cracked. You see on some of the faces, there’s a sort of jubilation: the barbarians taking in the sights of Rome after sacking it. Also the feeling: is this it? The Holy Grail? Sitting in Nancy Pelosi’s chair, wielding the gavel (if they did), probably a realization that wielding a gavel ends up being no more than... wielding a gavel.
Of all the people thrown together at just such moments, the ones fate puts in the crosshairs of a video camera are instant fate mates. Forever after, their lives are enmeshed. They will be forever analyzing why they were there, crafting alibis that can get them out of there, taking endless time to examine the gods they put their faith in. Also figuring out how to sell their actions to the people who love them, who heard their grand speeches when they had the wind at their back, with the comfort of big backers, before even the backers started faltering into this miasma of uncertainty.
I was once a kid, involved in a student prank. The idea was to stick up a poster for our end-of-year show on the inner walls of the local lock-up. That meant ladders, climbing, gluing, all in the middle of the night. It was a crazy idea, but the exhilaration was something else while it lasted.
The problem? One of us blabbed. Halfway through, the lights clanged on. The cops charged in, and we were facing charges that could ruin our careers. It took me a long time to forgive our informer, but gradually, I came to see that saner heads had prevailed, starting with him. That we were playing with real lives, for a lark. I ended up thanking him.
I think of that now, hoping that this Madness has passed, that the idea of serious moral suasion trumps renting your brain out to someone with a bigger megaphone and a more powerful personality.
My friend looked again. “Actually, it’s too hard to tell in the blur.”
I breathed a little sigh of relief.